Tag: relativity

Losses and Gains

Good day, team.

I fully intended to send out a challenge this week about the subject of decision-making. However, my weekend was seriously disrupted by the theft of my car. It was parked in front of my house and someone stole it last night. When I went out this morning to drive it away, there was nothing but a big empty space.

This week’s challenge is about dealing with loss, which seems more appropriate given my recent experience. I’ll save the challenge about decision- making for another time.

When I saw that my car was gone, I immediately wondered if I’d actually parked it in front of the house. I thought back to last evening and realized that before I went to bed, I’d looked out the window and seen it parked there. Fear began to course through me. I was asleep while they stole my property, defenseless in my naïve slumber. I felt the intrusion – someone had invaded my personal space.

I began to think, “What had I left in the car?” Nothing that couldn’t be replaced, but it made me angry to think that they’d gotten my horse supplies, my favorite lap blanket, the new panama hat my husband just gave me for our anniversary, and the $10.00 in quarters I stashed in the special change compartment. How many CD’s were in the glove box? What else had I left in the car? It was disturbing to think about some thief rifling through my auto paperwork, reading my registration and the receipt for last winter’s snow tires, or using my lip-gloss. That all seemed much too personal to share with someone who didn’t give a hoot about me and wasn’t afraid to steal my car.

I thought about who would do such a thing? I imagined nasty looking guys who were part of a car theft ring, targeting my car on the street, and towing it away without any regard to the damage they would inflict upon it. Why did they have to steal my car? Why do they have to steal anything at all? What kind of life does someone have that they have to steal someone’s car? I realized that this kind of thinking wasn’t going to help and maybe I could think about this loss differently.

I have seen many times that with loss there is also a gain. This is often hard to see when the sting of the loss is happening. But, over time, the gain becomes more apparent.

After the initial shock of losing my car started to wear off, I realized that cars belong to the category of stuff. Losing stuff is minor compared to losing animals and people. It’s inconvenient and irritating to have to deal with insurance adjusters and police and the lack of transportation for a few days, but it’s a minor pain compared to the tragedy of losing a loved one.

I began to think of what I might gain from this loss. Losing stuff makes room for something new to come in. When I looked at my calendar for this coming week, I realized that I could walk or take public transportation to anywhere I needed to be. I could ride my bike like many of my close friends in Portland do. The weather is perfect for walking and bike riding and both would be good exercise.

Maybe I would need to get another car. Although I enjoyed having an SUV for the first time, I always felt this car was too expensive and I didn’t need that much room. Frankly, a very good salesman talked me into purchasing the car and I always felt like I paid way too much for it. Perhaps this would give me an opportunity to make a better deal and get something that’s in a better price range.

Mostly, I realized that in the world of loss, this is a minor mishap. When my good friend lost her dog recently, I thought of how hard that loss can be. He was her close companion for many years and she had basked in his unconditional love. Living without that love is a loss that is hard to endure. And yet, my friend is so grateful for the time she had with him. That gratitude has taken some of the sting out of the pain of her loss and left her with wonderful memories of her faithful companion. I wonder what the gains will be from her loss. Perhaps she’ll have more freedom to go places without having to worry about who will take care of her dog. Maybe, sometime in the future, there will be another dog that will come into her life.

Today, I remembered the story of the Buddhist monk who saw the gain in his loss. He was in town helping to feed the poor when his little hut on the hill caught fire. As much as the townspeople rushed to try to put the fire out, the hut burned to the ground. As the monk approached the smoldering embers and piles of ash that had been his home, the townspeople moaned over his loss. “We are so sorry,” they exclaimed, “we tried to put the fire out but the wind was too strong.” The monk looked upon his neighbors with affection and gratitude. Then, he looked up at the evening sky. “Well,” he observed, “now I have a much better view of the moon.”

This week, if you lose something, try finding the gain. Sometimes just knowing that there is almost always a gain makes dealing with the pain of the loss a little bit easier to bear.

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2013 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

6/10/12 “Anger – Part 2”

Good day, team.

This week, I’d like to respond to some of the comments I received from subscribers about last week’s anger challenge. Some people wished I had written more about what to do once the anger occurs.

My intention in last week’s challenge was to encourage people to observe what’s happening when they become angry. For me, that’s the first step and also part of the answer in dealing with anger. If I can observe it, then the part of me that is observing the anger is not under its control. Noticing this observer can begin to offer me a more neutral view of the stimulus that’s made me angry in the first place. I try not to suppress or rush into “fixing” the anger when it happens to me. There’s often much within it that I can learn from about myself and others. Allowing myself to experience it and inquire more deeply helps me understand much more about the stimulus response mechanism that is at the heart of the experience.

However, in an effort to be responsive to my subscribers, I offer some practical suggestions for how to deal with anger once it’s upon us.

1)Feel your feet. When anger arises, it can be like jet rocket fuel coursing through the veins of an old Model-T Ford. What to do with all this explosive energy? I feel my feet. It immediately draws the energy down through the rest of my body, and the intense energy that collects in my chest and throat is more evenly distributed. It also creates more space in my chest for breathing, which decreases the anxiety that can come from shortness of breath and constriction in the throat. This practice takes some of the heat out of the fire and allows me to breathe.

2)Change the focus. When I’m angry, all my energy gets laser focused on the subject I’m angry about. If I can change my focus, even for a split second, it provides a different perspective and viewpoint. In the example I gave last week of wanting to vent all of my anger at the gas station attendant, I was able to change my focus for just a moment. As I drove into the gas station, I noticed that the sun had come out, and after a morning of rain, it was a welcome sight. This observation altered my mood just enough to begin to pull me out of it.

3)Try not to bundle. When we are angry, we tend to bundle unrelated things onto our current situation. Last week, I observed my thoughts starting to bundle as I was driving around looking for gasoline: “Why can’t I find any diesel gas? This would never happen in Europe! Why do American oil companies have such control over us?” and on and on and on. You can imagine all the other things I could have bundled onto that moment. Luckily, I was able to notice that I was doing this. When I drove into the gas station and saw the attendant smiling at another customer, it interrupted my chain of thought. His smile helped break up my angry thoughts, and I stopped myself from bundling something else onto the situation. I realized that this guy was not responsible for American oil companies and increasing my anger wasn’t going to help me get the gas I needed. This awareness also allowed me to respond in a more civil tone to him when he asked if he could help.

4)Remember what’s important to you. Anger makes us believe the only thing that’s really important is what we’re angry about. If you find yourself getting angry with your partner, for example, try stepping back to look at whatever is making you angry in the grand scheme of things. I don’t mean you can’t honestly communicate what’s bothering you, but seeing whatever it is in relative terms often decreases its importance and the burning desire we have to shout about it. Approaching the situation calmly and with some perspective gives you an opportunity to frame the message in a way that it can really be heard and received. I remember a friend telling me about how she was yelling at her husband about something while she was doing the dishes, and all of a sudden a glass broke in her hand. Her husband immediately ran to her side to help her wrap her hand to stop the bleeding. In that moment, the anger was immediately replaced by love and concern.

5)Be honest about what’s really going on. When I’m really angry with someone, I ask myself the five whys. Here’s an example:
I can’t believe he did that to me again! Why?
Because he always does that to me. Why?
He’s trying to compete with me. Why?
He doesn’t respect me. Why?
He doesn’t respect anyone. Why?
He doesn’t respect himself.

If we take the time (and use that angry energy) to do some deeper inquiry into why we are feeling angry rather than just fight back, we have an opportunity to see what might be underlying a situation. Often once we have this deeper information, the anger can begin to dissolve.

6)Be honest in your communication. Taking responsibility for our anger is key. Nothing is more frustrating than to be in a room with a bunch of angry, resentful people who aren’t saying anything. Owning up to our feelings is critical when anger overtakes us. I would much rather have someone say, “Look, this makes me really angry, and we need to talk about it!” Rather than have someone sneer at me or make negative comments about me to someone else. Having the courage to say it like it is, but in such a way that we can be heard, is paramount to making our way through the anger in a much healthier way. We can clear the air rather than harbor the elephant in the room.

No one is comfortable with anger. We generally want to get rid of the energy as quickly as possible because it’s volatile and can be destructive. If we can’t express it, we want to fix it. But often the part of me that wants to fix it becomes angry when I can’t fix it and then that anger gets bundled in with the rest.

Being patient with the process of observing anger is actually harder than dispelling it. But the process of inquiry never lets me down. My inner world contains an entire universe that is worth exploring. And sometimes, the energy of anger is just what I need to propel me further into that unknown territory where the heart of the matter truly lies.

As the poet Ranier Maria Rilke advised, “Live the questions.” And if that doesn’t work for you, I hope the above suggestions will.

Have a good week!


Kathleen Doyle-White
(503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2012 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

3/14/11 “Remembering What’s Important”

Good day, Team.

This week, I can’t help but reflect upon the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Sometimes I wonder if the size of a tragedy proportionately influences our humanity. Do disasters like this have to keep happening to wake us up and remind us of what’s important? How it is that I’ve almost forgotten about the oil spill that happened just last year? or the earthquake in Haiti? What is it in our thinking that so quickly forgets? And how is it that in our day-to-day lives, we fuss and fight and strike out at one another when instead we could be appreciating all of the good things in our lives?

This week’s challenge is about remembering what’s important. Last week I found myself embroiled in an internal struggle that was all too familiar: worrying about what others think of me. I know there’s no way I can control what others think of me. Goodness knows I can barely control my own thoughts, let alone someone else’s. In reality what others think and say about me is a projection of what they think about themselves — so worrying about it is not very productive. However, I’m also aware that this affliction is quite common, and that it’s the rare person who doesn’t spend time worrying about what others think of them.

As I was struggling last week, with my monkey mind jumping from limb to limb pondering this topic, screeching at me and demanding my attention, I heard about the earthquake and everything stopped. In that moment, I was completely still inside. That stillness produced a sacred moment for me. I felt the suffering of thousands of Japanese people whose lives were changed forever, and I thought of what’s important to me: the people I love and the quality of the life I’m leading. These thoughts catapulted me into a state of gratitude and prayer. This kind of earth-shattering news causes me to pause and feel for others who are experiencing loss and devastation. It also fills me with gratitude for what I have and the safety of my own surroundings.

Each day this week, spend some time remembering what’s most important to you. Try not to let your thoughts of blame, resentment, worry and dissatisfaction take over. Try not to complain or speak against yourself or others. Allow yourself to appreciate the world and people around you, and don’t forget to let them know it. Give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives and take a few moments to reflect on our good fortune. And when all else fails, remember that love is universal and always here.

In that vein, I offer a variation of I Corinthians, 13: 4-13 from the Bible. These words remind me of what’s truly important:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I talked as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Have a good week!
Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2011 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.